BONHAM, Gerald Hugh, MD, DPH, FRCP(C), QM
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November 21, 1930 - January 20, 2013
Dr Gerald H. (Gerry) Bonham passed away peacefully at Delta Hospital on January 20 after courageously surmounting a series of interlocking medical problems over the past three years. He leaves behind his devoted wife Ann (Day) and his children Tara, Lynn (Steve Bell) and Nancy (David Clancy); Ann Baker (mother of Tara, Lynn and Nancy); children Susan and Timothy; Helen Noonan (mother of Susan and Timothy); grandchildren Amy and Aiden Pitt-Brooke, Maja Bonham; sister Christine (Gunther Mueller) and extended family members. He was predeceased by his parents Jewel and Hugh Bonham and his brother Dennis. Gerry had an illustrious career as one of Canada's best-known and effective Public Health administrators, advocates, and writers. He had a masterly grasp of international research on public health issues including the effects of child birth-weight and child and maternal poverty and diet; tobacco and alcohol; and food safety. He was Medical Health Officer successively for BC's Northern Interior, Central Vancouver Island, Vancouver North Shore and Vancouver City, followed by appointments as Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for the BC Government, Chief Medical Health Officer for Calgary including a joint appointment as Professor at the University of Calgary Medical School with a final joint appointment as Medical Health Officer for East York and Professorship at the University of Toronto Medical School. He was a prolific writer on public health issues with emphases on birth outcomes, child health care, fluoridation issues and evidence-based public decision-making regarding drug approvals and administration. As a young man, Gerry received the Donald Fraser Gold Medal as top graduate of the School of Hygiene, University of Toronto; the President's Medal BC Lung Association; honourary life memberships in the BC and Alberta Public Health Associations; the George Elliot Award for lifetime achievement in Public Health in BC from the University of BC; General Award of Excellence from the BC Division, Canadian Cancer Society; Queen Elizabeth's Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals for public service. He lived life to the full - always active and pushing boundaries of travel, entertaining and cooking. He and Ann cycled throughout Western Europe and BC over many years, travelled extensively and intensively in Central and Eastern Europe, and completed a tour of Canadian battlefields in France just months before his final illness. He was an omnivorous reader and a lover of opera - an "over the top" mode of entertainment reflective of his own personality. Family and friends were entertained on and off-board by Gerry's decades of complicated relationships as Master and Commander of a series of powerboats with personalities as sharply etched as their owner - "Poor Baby" being the most memorable. Great memories, and no one actually drowned... His last ten years were dogged by knees that had been worn out from ferocious competitive tennis - but no complaints - it had been worth-while! Gerry prided himself on his skill with barbecue and oven. The Bonhams were famous as demon entertainers – running joyous celebrations of food, friendship and family for large mobs several times a year at their beautifully appointed floating home on the Fraser and their cottage near Mount Baker. The family would like to thank Family Physician Leslie Brown MD for her kindness, expertise and understanding over the past three years; the Delta Hospital physicians and nursing staff of 2 North for their kindness and compassion. Donations in Gerry's memory would be welcomed at Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon Division or the Vancouver Opera. A celebration of the life of Dr. Gerry Bonham will be held at the Abercorn Inn, 9260 Bridgeport Road, Richmond BC on Sunday, 03 February 2013 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. He will be greatly missed.
Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province from Jan. 25 to Jan. 27, 2013